Hallo, Aro: Abrasive – K. A. Cook

Cover image for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Spending Midsummer night with a pretty man shouldn’t be a problem for Suki … except for everybody else’s romantic expectations.

Contains: An allo-aro woman forced to navigate both her sexual partners’ and her mother’s assumptions of her romantic availability.

Content Advisory: This piece describes the amatonormativity common to allo-aros where casual sexual experiences are presumed to lead to or develop into romantic relationships–an assumption often reinforced by people outside the relationship. Please expect sex references, arousal references, depictions of physical intimacy and depictions of sexual attraction, along with sex-negative (slut-shaming) comments made by the character’s mother.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 999 words / 4 PDF pages.

Note: This is a hero’s origin story for Suki, a character from longer pieces in development. I wanted to explore why she’s developed her manner in dealings with other people, since the “angry” and “aggressive” allo-aro is becoming an antagonism-based stereotype. How better to reframe and contextualise this than though the sympathy we accord a narrating protagonist?

Their self-righteous want makes terrible cruelty of her, but what other weapon has she?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Abrasive – K. A. Cook”

Hallo, Aro: Pressure, Side Two – K. A. Cook

Cover image for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: Reflections on the aromantic community’s historical privileging of asexual aromantics, the ways it has failed to provide equal inclusion to allosexual aromantics, and how this shapes my relationship to my own aromanticism.

Content Advisory: This piece describes several shapes of antagonism and alienation directed at and experienced by allo-aros, including references to the predator stereotype and the expectation that idealised/acceptable sex takes place in the context of (romantic) love.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 995 words / 4 PDF pages.

Note the first: This is the second in a series describing the different angles of pressure allo-aros endure from family, society, the queer/LGBTQIA+ community and, yes, the a-spec and aromantic communities.

Note the second: This piece will make better sense if you’re familiar with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (or the movie!), in particular the way the Emerald City becomes emerald in the eyes of its citizens and guests.

I look over our wall at my golden heart, dust-covered and tarnished, slumbering in a field of poppies. Does anyone else stagger under the weight of our locked-on glasses?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Pressure, Side Two – K. A. Cook”

Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Hearts

Six handsewn cross stitch patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include aromantic and allo-aro in zigzag patterns, nebulaquoi and arovague in plain stripes, a text patch reading Allo Aro and an arrow design in allo-aro colours.

In honour of Pride Month, I thought I’d offer patches applicable for the wider LGBTQIA+ and queer communities. This tutorial showcases the steps for making a heart-shaped patch, with patterns available for flags with three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten evenly-spaced horizontal stripes. Folks who want to emphasis love as an element in their identity can sew the hearts in the traditional upwards-facing orientation, while aros like me, who like to de-centre the role of love in my pride, can sew them upside down.

A photo, taken on a blue microfibre blanket, of the rainbow pride flag, Sullivans embroidery floss in the same colours and laid out in rainbow order, and an assortment of pride-themed cross stitched heart patches, all with borders in thick buttonhole stitch, open blanket stitch or dyed aida. Hearts shown, sewn both upside down and rightside up, include rainbow, aro, allo-aro, abro, agender, pan, p(o)ly, trans, non-binary and idemromantic flags.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full and quarter crosses) and backstitch to make the unedged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the edged patch. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch. If you’re new to embroidery or needlecraft, I recommend completing the first tutorial–a simple square patch–before attempting the heart. The shape isn’t complex, but it does require sewing along curves.

Continue reading “Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Hearts”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Arrows

Six handsewn cross stitch patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include aromantic and allo-aro in zigzag patterns, nebulaquoi and arovague in plain stripes, a text patch reading Allo Aro and an arrow design in allo-aro colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my pride-striped arrow design with patterns for two variants and recommendations for further modifications. If you’re comfortable with the additional back stitching and detailing required for the aro text patches, the simpler versions of this design require no additional skills.

A collection of arrow patches, finished and in progress, sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. All patches have a grey triangular arrowhead, brown or tan shaft, and fletching coloured in the stripes of a pride flag. One rectangular patch has aromantic flag fletching on a light green-yellow background with a grass green border; one rectangular patch has allo-aro flag fletching on a light mint background with a darker mint border. One patch, unfinished with raw aida edges, has the nebularomantic flag on a purple background. The last patch, an allo-aro arrow, is cut around the shape of the arrow and finished in a thick white border.

The patterns given are for a five-stripe and seven-stripe flag. Because I rotated the flag in order to place it along the fletching, this pattern will accommodate any horizontally-striped pride flag. The flag will appear in the proper orientation if you sew the patch in a vertical position with the arrowhead pointing upwards.

This, like the “aroace” and “alloaro” text patches, makes for quite a long patch. I don’t recommend sewing it on 11-count aida if you wish more utility in terms of how you place it on a bag or garment.

Patch Patterns and Stripe Modifications

The five-stripe arrow pattern is a rectangle 62 stitches wide and 17 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 65 x 20 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).

A cross stitch pattern for an arrow design with an elongated triangle arrowhead in grey, a tan shaft, aromantic pride flag fletching and a pale green background. Outline stitching in a dark grey frames the arrowhead, with ligher grey lines of back stitching running down the head; the tan shaft is framed in a darker tan; and green stitches outline the fletching.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Arrows”

Hallo, Aro: Pressure, Side One – K. A. Cook

Cover image for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: Reflections on the West’s culture of sexualisation and the ways this makes and shapes a world hostile to aromantic allosexuality.

Content Advisory: This piece describes several shapes of antagonism directed at women, sex workers, bisexuals/multisexuals and queer people. Please also expect references to Christianity and Catholicism, frequent use of “queer” as a plural noun, uses of the misogynistic/sex-worker antagonistic slurs “slut” and “whore”, casual references to sex acts, and many references to the expectation that idealised/acceptable sex takes place in the context of (romantic) love.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 997 words / 5 PDF pages.

Note: This is the first in a series describing the different angles of pressure allo-aros endure from family, society, the queer/LGBTQIA+ community and, yes, the a-spec and aromantic communities. We need to better acknowledge the way Western society’s sexualisation and sexual demonisation create a world inherently toxic to allo-aros–especially when we are also subject to misogyny and monosexism.

The new rule seared into hir skin: hide the sex that taints the queer fight for straight acceptance.

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Pressure, Side One – K. A. Cook”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Text, Part Two

Six handsewn cross stitch patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include aromantic and allo-aro in zigzag patterns, nebulaquoi and arovague in plain stripes, a text patch reading Allo Aro and an arrow design in allo-aro colours.

Part two provides the patterns for four and five-stripe “aroace” text patch designs and a four-stripe “aro” design.

For a complete guide to the stitching process, please see part one, where I’ve posted step-by-step instructions with my “aro” patch as an example. Other than factoring in differing sizes of aida swatches and floss colours, there is no change in the sewing process. All patterns can be similarly modified in terms of letter spacing, use of quarter stitches and layout.

As a bonus, I’ve also provided four and five stripe “ace” patterns!

Aro Patch Patterns

The four-stripe “aro” pattern is a rectangle 35 stitches wide and 16 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 38 x 19 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).

Cross stitch pattern with the text aro in block lettering, striped in the colours of the old green/yellow/orange/black aro flag, on a mint background.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Text, Part Two”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Text, Part One

Six handsewn cross stitch patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include aromantic and allo-aro in zigzag patterns, nebulaquoi and arovague in plain stripes, a text patch reading Allo Aro and an arrow design in allo-aro colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my “aro” text patch design, comprised of block letters filled in with pride flag stripes, and provides patterns for this and an “alloaro” text patch. You must be comfortable with the materials and processes involved in the basic stripes patch tutorial and the zigzag stripes tutorial (for the back stitching) before attempting this one.

If you’re not already familiar with them, I recommend practising quarter/three-quarter stitches on a scrap piece of aida (as it requires piercing a hole in the centre of the block). You can sew this pattern without using them, but I prefer the rounded look of the lettering over the blockish shape of traditional cross stitch.

These patches are designed for a horizontal five-stripe pride flag. If you wish to make “aro” in the colours of a seven-stripe flag, you’ll need to redesign the letters if you wish each stripe to encompass an equal number of lines. You may prefer to use a different style and size of text instead: many cross stitch books have a section with text, and the Sullivans brand of aida fabric comes packaged with a pattern for cross stitching block-style text. Some of these may require less work for adapting your preferred flag.

Please note that the “alloaro” text pattern makes for quite a long rectangle and will work best on satchel-type bags or the backs of jackets. I don’t recommend stitching it on 11-count fabric (as I did, see below) if you don’t want a massive patch!

Patch Patterns and Design

The five-stripe “aro” pattern is a rectangle 28 stitches wide and 14 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 31 x 17 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).

Cross stitch pattern with the text aro in block lettering, striped in the colours of the dark green/light gren/white/grey/black aromantic flag, on a yellow background. Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Text, Part One”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Zigzag Stripes

Six handsewn cross stitch patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include aromantic and allo-aro in zigzag patterns, nebulaquoi and arovague in plain stripes, a text patch reading Allo Aro and an arrow design in allo-aro colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my striped zigzag patch pattern, along with instructions for turning a patch into a badge/pin and sewing a patch to a bag or hat. You must be comfortable with the materials and processes involved in the basic stripes patch tutorial and before attempting this one.

In addition to cross, whip/over and blanket stitches, you’ll need to sew a back stitch. This is also covered in Red Ted Art’s video tutorial series.

Like standard cross stitch, the zigzag patch operates on a line: I sew one half of the line from left to right before returning over the same row of stitches from right to left. Unlike standard cross stitch, I’m placing diagonal lines of back stitch to become the zigzag/arrowhead shapes of each row. These stitches will form crosses when adding lines of back stitch sewn in the reverse direction.

If you wish to turn your patches into badges/pins, I recommend using high-quality safety pins. Flimsy or easily-bent pins, like those found in most dollar shops, are not suitable. Safety pins are best sourced from a specialised sewing shop.

People who don’t want to sew can try a fabric bonding product like Peel N Stick to permanently attach a patch to a garment, bag or fabric lanyard.

Structuring Your Zigzag Patch

This tutorial creates a horizontal zigzag or arrowhead shape three stitches high and five stitches wide, repeated six times across a rectangular patch. The arrowhead can be modified in height by increasing the width: a seven-stitch wide design will be five stitches high.

Stripe thickness is entirely optional. I often create three-line stripes, similar to my basic five-stripe flag designs, but I’ve also sewn patches with two and one-line stripes. If you want your patch to obviously represent a pride flag, you’re better to do two, three or more lines per colour without repetition. If you want a subtler or more abstract design, you may prefer to use one line per colour and repeat your flag’s colour pattern down the patch, as shown below:

Five handsewn cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Patches all feature a horizontal zigzag stripe pattern. Patches from top to bottom include: gay/rainbow/LGBTQIA+ with repeated stripes and a black border; pansexual with repeated stripes and a gold border; aromantic with repeated stripes and an olive border; aromantic with a purple border; and allo-aro with a red-orange border.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Zigzag Stripes”

When Asexuals Belong In Allo-Aro Spaces

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

On my Allo-Aro 101 page, after explaining what the words “aromantic” and “allosexual” mean, I state whom the label “allo-aro” represents:

Any allosexual aromantic who isn’t also, solely and permanently, asexual; or any aromantic who wishes to centre their experience of sexual attraction alongside their aromanticism. Heterosexual aros, bisexual aros, pansexual aros, gay aros, lesbian aros and aros with fluid or shifting attractions can identify as allo-aro.

(Allosexual, as a general rule, means “not on the asexual spectrum”.)

This isn’t a description common to those folks concerned with explaining and defining allo-aro identity. In most circumstances, a-specs define allo-aro as “aromantic and allosexual” or “aromantic and not asexual”.

Allo-aro is positioned in opposition to asexuality to such a point that it is difficult to define why allo-aro exists as an aromantic identity without referencing asexuality. In practice, it has become a rallying cry of I am aromantic but not asexual against a broader culture of assuming aromanticism is only valid, acceptable or safe when paired with asexuality. Why shouldn’t allo-aros stick to those simple definitions? Why complicate matters with additional words like “solely” or “permanently”?

If we regard allo-aro identity as a mere statement of one’s present allosexuality and aromanticism, I’m not currently allo-aro.

Continue reading “When Asexuals Belong In Allo-Aro Spaces”

Fiction: The Mundane Progression of Premortem Colloquy, Part Two

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After a night of revelations to her dead aunt Rosie and her living brother Esher, Mara Hill must dare another with Benjamin Lisbet. If she’s truly the woman Mara hopes, surely Benjamin will be receptive to a conversation of the “I love you and want to be with you, just not romantically” sort? Surely this afternoon won’t stray beyond Mara’s preparations of a picnic basket, chives, rehearsed speeches and less-rumpled clothing?

Yet her months of searching for magic to refresh her fading love means there’s too much she doesn’t know about Benjamin. Too much Mara needs to know to hold this conversation without losing Benjamin’s friendship.

Mara thought speaking of her fading love under cover of dark difficult enough … but speaking of romance in daylight is another challenge entirely.

Contains: A sapphic, lithromantic trans witch making a misstep in the quest to build a love that honours her nature; an autistic, idemromantic schoolmarm with coeliac revealing her struggles in building romantic relationships with allistic women; and a conversation concluding in utterances of the word “when”.

Setting: Marchverse. Please don’t read this without having first perused The Sorcerous Compendium of Postmortem Query (available on WordPress, Patreon and in the When Quiver Meets Quill collection).

Content Advisory: This story contains non-explicit references to sex and sex acts by two allosexual aromantic-spectrum women. These references are more integral to the story and their relationship than in my other pieces, in that I’m not relying on mentions of sex as something these characters have or desire to convey their allosexuality.

It should be noted that this piece contains discussions about romance, romantic relationships and sexual relationships, along with the ways these intersect with autistic-targeted ableism and reflections on ways to navigate sexual non-romantic relationships. I don’t recommend this story for people who experience severe sexual and/or romantic repulsion.

Length: 3, 918 words (part two of two).

Does the world understand what upon it sets so great a value? 

Continue reading “Fiction: The Mundane Progression of Premortem Colloquy, Part Two”